Camp Upton (detention facility)
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|US Gov Name||Camp Upton Internment Camp|
|Facility Type||U.S. Army Internment Camp|
|Administrative Agency||U.S. Army|
|Location||Long Island, New York (40.86826553092229 lat, -72.87920311295962 lng)|
|Population Description||Held an undetermined number of Nikkei internees|
|General Description||Camp Upton held an undetermined number of Japanese internees during World War II in six-man tents surrounded by a double barbed-wire fence and guard towers. After a period two to three months, the internees were transferred to Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.|
|Exit Destination||Fort Meade|
Army encampment on Long Island in New York used as an internment site for Japanese Americans.
Camp Upton was built during World War I as a facility to train soldiers from the New York area for service in Europe. Named after Civil War Major General Emery Upton, it was completed by the end of 1917. Some 40,000 men from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut spent time there during World War I. Deactivated after the war, Camp Upton was reactivated for World War II where it served as an induction center and later as a rehabilitation hospital starting in Sept. '44. 
Camp Upton also held an undetermined number of Nikkei internees during World War II. In his 1946 memoir, Toru Matsumoto, a divinity student in New York City, described his internment experience. Initially held at Ellis Island along with other prominent members of the Nikkei community in New York, he and others were transferred to Camp Upton in February 1942. He noted the double barbed-wire fence and guard towers with armed guards that surrounded the compound and harsh treatment by one of the commanding officers at the camp. The camp had a capacity of about 700, and the men slept in 120 six-man tents. During rainy periods, the tents leaked, and the camp flooded. "We busied ourselves digging drainage ditches, and as soon as the sun was high we took all furniture and suitcases out to dry," Matsumoto wrote about the aftermath of a storm. "The tent street looked like a camp of war refugees." Matsumoto did note that the food was far better than that served at Ellis Island. Internees composed a "Song of Upton" sung to the tune of a Japanese folk song that noted the leaking tents, harsh discipline, and barbed wire and machine guns. After an unspecified time—likely two or three months—Matsumoto and other Japanese internees were transferred to Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. 
After the war, Camp Upton was declared surplus, and in 1947, it was transformed into Brookhaven National Laboratory, a facility initially focused on nuclear research. Brookhaven continues to operate to the present. 
For More Information
Matsumoto Toru, and Marion O. Lerrigo. A Brother Is a Stranger . New York: John Day Co., 1946.
Newman, Esther. "Sojourners, Spies and Citizens: The Interned Latin Japanese Civilians during World War II." M. A. thesis, Youngstown State University, 2008.
- "Camp Upton," Brookhaven National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, accessed on May 27, 2020 at https://www.bnl.gov/about/history/campupton.php .
- Toru Matsumoto and Marion O. Lerrigo, A Brother Is a Stranger (New York: John Day Co., 1946), 221-33; Stephen Mak, "'America's Other Internment': World War II and the Making of Modern Human Rights" (Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 2009), 134–35; Esther Newman, "Sojourners, Spies and Citizens: The Interned Latin Japanese Civilians during World War II" (M. A. thesis, Youngstown State University, 2008), 101.
- "Camp Upton."
Last updated July 6, 2021, 9:27 p.m..